A reason-based theory of rational choice

Dietrich, Franz and List, C. (2013) A reason-based theory of rational choice. Nous, 47 (1). pp. 104-134. ISSN 1468-0068

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There is a surprising disconnect between formal rational choice theory and philosophical work on reasons. The one is silent on the role of reasons in rational choices, the other rarely engages with the formal models of decision problems used by social scientists. To bridge this gap, we propose a new, reason-based theory of rational choice. At its core is an account of preference formation, according to which an agent’s preferences are determined by his or her motivating reasons, together with a ‘weighing relation’ between different combinations of reasons. By explaining how someone’s preferences may vary with changes in his or her motivating reasons, our theory illuminates the relationship between deliberation about reasons and rational choices. Although primarily positive, the theory can also help us think about how those preferences and choices ought to respond to normative reasons.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Julie Frith
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2012 12:40
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 19:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/36975
DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0068.2011.00840.x

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